royal mail group plc (welsh: post brenhinol; scottish gaelic: a' phuist rìoghail; cornish: postya riel) is a postal service and courier company in the united kingdom, originally established in 1516. the company's subsidiary royal mail group limited operates the brands royal mail (letters) and parcelforce worldwide (parcels). general logistics systems, an international logistics company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of royal mail group. the group used the name consignia for a brief period in the early 2000s, before reverting to its original name.
the company provides mail collection and delivery services throughout the uk. letters are deposited in a post box, taken to a post office, or collected in bulk from businesses. royal mail owns and maintains the uk's distinctive red pillar boxes, first introduced in 1852, many of which bear the initials of the reigning monarch. deliveries are made at least once every day except sundays and bank holidays at uniform charges for all uk destinations. royal mail generally aims to make first class deliveries the next business day throughout the nation.
for most of its history, the royal mail was a public service, operating as a government department or public corporation. following the postal services act 2011, a majority of the shares in royal mail were floated on the london stock exchange in 2013. the uk government initially retained a 30% stake in royal mail, but sold its remaining shares in 2015, ending 499 years of state ownership. it is a constituent of the ftse 250 index.